Many website managers agree that responding to a flurry of questions sent through the ‘help’ or ‘support’ section is a tedious process. But the reality is, businesses should regard visitors to their website as potential newcomers, providing enough instruction and guidelines for them to be able to fill out forms, submit bank details, and overall, familiarise themselves with the site.
A new Australian startup elevio offers a way for website owners to cut down time spent on answering queries. Rather than rely on traditional streams like email, FAQs systems or support portals, elevio allows website owners to show contextual-based tips to their visitors to help the out where and when they need it.
Through its system, website owners can place question marks next to questions in application forms, or anything else that they feel may trigger confusion. The end-user can hover their mouse over the question mark for explanations and guidelines.
The startup was launched publicly in January this year and founded by Melbourne entrepreneurs, Chris Duell and Matt Trimarchi. Duell says that they run a few different websites and are regularly addressed by customers who ask the same questions.
“We have an FAQs section and a support portal, but still we get the same questions coming in. We just thought there needed to be a better way, so we created a system where we could identify pages that were causing people the most troubles, and let them click on items on the page to have a tip shown to them explaining what to do,” says Duell.
He adds that elev.io is the only SaaS product that provides this functionality. All three plans come with a 30-day free trial, starting from $9.99 a month, moving onto $49.99 and $99.99 a month.
The co-founders initially spent a couple of months getting a minimum viable product out as the private beta, ironing out any bugs spotted in the system.
“Though we were working on [elevio] as a Minimum Viable Product, we still planned out the app to ensure that as the site grew, we’d be able to handle change requests and scalability. This was something that was important at the outset, since if we gained a high traffic customer early on, we needed to ensure that wouldn’t affect other customers,” says Duell.
Though no numbers were revealed, Duell says the only costs involved were in the development of the site, domain name and hosting.
“It’s been a really bootstrapped project. As we grow, the main cost we will have is scaling the servers to support increased load,” he says.
As the co-founders of VentureCraft, an app development firm, they’ve been able to invest their earnings from other projects like Hired.com.au into elevio. They don’t plan on raising external investment.
“If we can get a working product out the door, while retaining full ownership and direction, then that’s the choice we’ll always make,” says Duell.
As it’s still early days, Duell and Trimarchi are relying heavily on word-of-mouth as well as listings on startup sites and blogs to gain traction.
“We also have a small ‘powered by elevio’ link at the bottom of the widget when it is shown on customers’ sites. This is a similar marketing approach to other widget based SaaS companies like olark and uservoice,” says Duell.
Their biggest challenges thus far have one faced by many startups – self-doubt and marketing. Duell says they’ve been constantly asking themselves ‘will people like our offering?’ and ‘how are we going to spread the word?’ – as well other ‘what if this’ and ‘what if that’ questions.
“But we’ve learnt in the past that they are all questions that don’t have definite answers and shouldn’t hold us back. So we chose to ignore the ‘what ifs’ and get our product to market early, and use feedback to gauge where we should go next,” says Duell.
He continues, saying feedback from early bird customers is the most valuable piece of information you can get – albeit taken with a grain of salt.
“They are the people willing to get on board early, and are willing to actually help you succeed so they too can succeed with the help of your product. It’s a cycle that aids both parties,” says Duell.
Duell admits the only plans they have in their books to customer acquisition and to allow their users’ feedback and natural progression guide their next steps in terms of product refinement.
“We of course have plans to get as many customers as we can … but we want to take an organic approach rather than just try and shove the product in front of everyone before we have all bases covered 100 percent,” he says.
For more information on elevio, visit elev.io.